2012-08-08 / Front Page

On the Roads Again: Schumer Steps up to Help Town Get FEMA Funds

Senator's aide promises Philipstown assistance
Annie Chesnut

Cody Peluso, right, of Sen. Charles Schumer's Hudson Valley office, met with Philipstown Board members and Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico (end of table) on Wednesday. Photo / Annie ChesnutCody Peluso, right, of Sen. Charles Schumer's Hudson Valley office, met with Philipstown Board members and Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico (end of table) on Wednesday. Photo / Annie Chesnut

Supervisor Richard Shea, Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico, his assistant Maureen Etta, and the Philipstown Board gathered on Wednesday evening to welcome Cody Peluso, Senator Charles Schumer’s regional director for the Hudson Valley. Their goal (and Schumer’s): recovery of a remaining $1 million-plus in promised funding from FEMA to finance the repair of road and road-related damage from Hurricane Irene and subsequent bad weather nearly one year ago.

The federal agency has already released about $450,000, Shea told the PCN&R in an interview Friday. What Shea and Chirico are hoping to collect—and soon—is the remaining funding that will pay for projects for which contractor bids have been selected and plans prepared.

In other words, the only thing missing is the money.

While “bonding out” essential infrastructure work is always an option, Shea made it clear at the workshop, and later, to the PCN&R, that the additional $1.263 million in FEMA funding is essential to saving taxpayer dollars in tight economic times.

The deadline for completion of work is March of 2013—based on when initial post-disaster meetings with FEMA occurred. Chirico was both detailed and passionate in his description of how much work is yet to be done, and how that time frame may limit its completion if the funding drags out much longer.

But Peluso made it clear that if significant holdups had occurred at FEMA’s end, Philipstown should not be penalized for those delays. Chirico noted, for example, that at least four different FEMA staffers had served as “project specialists” on the Philipstown case—necessitating a new learning-curve time frame for each.

Peloso spoke at length on Sen. Schumer’s commitment to the people of southeastern New York, and Philipstown in particular, noting that if no additional word had been received from FEMA within the next week or two, Schumer would use his considerable clout as senior senator to urge the agency to release the funds.

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